The New Philadelphia Nightlife

From cooking classes to dance parties, Philly nightlife isn’t just for drinking anymore. Here, our guide to everything worth doing after dark.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Clay Studio

Art | 137-139 N. 2nd Street
Have a Patrick/Demi moment at the Clay Studio’s couples’ nights, with pottery-making instruction and booze. Third Friday monthly.

Video Pirates Video Party

Misc. Nocturnal Frivolity | 531 N. 12th Street
Ever wonder where your old VHS tapes wound up? They’re with the Video Pirates at this mash-up of footage never intended for big-screen viewing—driver’s-ed instructionals, dog-training how-to’s, long-forgotten public-access shows, home movies and more, all spliced into thematic shorts and features. Fun throwback art for the iPod age. Every third Monday.

Bob and Barbara’s

Karaoke | 1509 South Street
This most esteemed dive (if there can be such a thing) offers the ultimate in liquid courage: the $3.50 Pabst-and-Jim-Beam special. Look for theme nights at Bob and Barbara’s like “Bad ’80s Songs.”

Nomad Pizza

Movies | 611 S 7th Street
Pizza and a movie is a combo made in heaven, especially outside the living room. Nomad Pizza shows movies upstairs every Sunday night at 8 p.m. (Catch West Side Story and The Blues Brothers this month.)

Rosenbach Museum and Library

Arts & Culture | 2008 Delancey Place
Those seeking a high-minded night out can dive into scholar-led courses at the Rosenbach (for a hefty tuition) that explore classics like Ulysses or Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. Hurry—they fill up.

McGillin’s Olde Ale House

Karaoke | 1310 Drury Street
The people-watching at McGillin’s Olde Ale House, Philadelphia’s oldest bar, is priceless, though someone should tell the gangs of drunk administrative assistants that “Love Shack” isn’t a good karaoke tune.

Fleisher Art Memorial

Art | 719 Catharine Street
Fleisher Art Memorial is awash in after-dark classes and workshops, ranging from quirky subjects like iPad drawing and sketching live animals to more skilled instruction, like painting fundamentals. Professors are well-credentialed and—bonus!—many sessions are free.

Gershman YMCA

Games | 401 S Broad Street
I’ve only experienced the thrill of bingo victory twice. Once was in fourth grade. The other was at the Gershman YMCA during GayBingo. The chances of winning seemed slim at this fete hosted by Philly drag mistress Carlota Ttendant and her merry band of queens—there were birthday parties, bachelorette parties, eager young families and, yes, plenty of old folks filling the seats. But two games in, there they were: five numbers in a row. I hesitated—false bingo alarms are so embarrassing—before jumping up and hollering. A parade of drag queens sent me off with cash and blown kisses. You can’t win if you don’t play, and friends, if you’re not playing GayBingo, you’re seriously losing out.

Music Church at the Boom Room

Music | 1300 N Front Street
Set in a loft-like single home under the El (it’s a recording studio by day) dubbed the Boom Room, this electric jam session starts off mellow at 9 p.m., building to a boil by its 1 a.m. conclusion. Grab your guitar and jump in, or just bring a six-pack and listen. And from tight blues guitar to harmonica-infused beatboxing, you’ll want to listen. Sundays.

Pastorius Park

Misc. Nocturnal Frivolity | W. Gravers Lane & Millman Street
I grew up in Center City, so I didn’t experience much iconic nighttime nature: the song of the crickets, catching fireflies in mason jars, staring at a sky studded with stars. If I wanted to see the constellations, I went to the planetarium. Now I get my after-dark nature fix at Pastorius Park in Chestnut Hill. Unlike much of Philly at night, Pastorius is pitch-black, and it’s glorious. Lightning bugs bounce between trees, frogs make noises somewhere between burps and unzipping zippers, and if you’re lucky, a couple of bats will do a swoop-and-dive dance overhead.

Alla Spina

Food | 1410 Mt Vernon Street
Salumi, pig trotter involtini, house-made pretzels with beer cheese, and fancied-up Italian poutine? Yeah, that’s why Alla Spina is so crowded. Open till 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, till midnight Sunday to Thursday.

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  • Denise Rambo

    Those aren’t just any drag queens at Gay Bingo … they’re the BVDs! (Bingo Verifying Divas)